Paint Your Wagon

Previewed 23 July 1996, Opened 26 July 1996, Closed 2 September 1996 at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre - performed in repertory with 4 preview performances and 23 regular performances

Ian Talbot directs a major revival of the Lerner and Loewe musical Paint Your Wagon in London for a strictly limited season

The effects of the Californian gold rush on a small community. Paint Your Wagon has not been seen on the London stage since it's West End Premiere in 1953, but the best-known song, 'Wand'rin Star', was a hit in the 1970's for Lee Marvin, who starred in the film version. The other numbers include 'I Talk To The Trees' and 'They Call The Wind Maria'.

The cast features Tony Selby as 'Ben Rumson', Claire Carrie as 'Jennifer Rumson', Liz Izen as 'Elizabeth', Chook Sibtain as 'Julio'. Directed by Ian Talbot with choreography by Lisa Kent, designs by Paul Farnsworth, lighting by Jason Taylor and sound by Simon Whitehorn. Lerner and Loewe's other West End musicals include Gigi, My Fair Lady and Brigadoon.

The original West End production, directed by Richard Bird and choreographed by Agnes de Mille and starring real life father and daughter Bobby Howes and Sally Anne Howes as 'Ben Rumson' and his daughter 'Jennifer Rumson', opened at Her Majesty's Theatre on Wednesday 11 February 1953 and continued to play up to Saturday 3 April 1954 for a total of 477 performances.

"This musical is not the most memorable of those written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe - they went on to give us My Fair Lady and Camelot - and the songs I Talk To The Trees and They Call The Wind Maria would be more at home on a psychiatrist's couch than in Rumson, the gold mining town where the action is set. But the show, a morality tale pointing out that rich dreams do not have to involve money, has great charm and Ian Talbot's delightful production is impeccably played and sung by a cast which includes Tony Selby, playing the role made famous by Lee Marvin in the much-changed movie, and Chook Sibtain, a name to remember. Hitch your wagon to a five-star delight." The News of the World

"Lerner and Loewe's Paint Your Wagon not seen in London since the premiere in 1953, though its plot-line of love in the gold rush hour is at once as tenuous and incomprehensible as that of Martin Guerre, is a treasure trove of elegant, sinuous melody and of skilful, poetic lyrics. Treat yourself on a fine summer night, and take in a hot dog and a glass or three of mulled wine." The Observer

"This early Loewe/Lerner collaboration has not been seen over here for 40 years, and this feels the proper length of time to allow between revivals, though I may give the show a miss when it surfaces again in the 2030s. Loewe wrote some catchy music for it, and Lerner's lyrics have some racy lines to them now and then. Yet the show's structure drifts all over the shop, and the misfortunes seem arbitrary, making it hard to care what happens next to the cast of gold rush-diggers and their women. The haphazard turn of events may be deliberate, to give the impression of men drifting through the Rockies, forming loose alliances and then moving away... Uneasily aware that his show has neither start nor finish, Lerner frames it in a perfectly unnecessary graveside scene for Jennifer's old Pa, the hard-drinking Ben Rumson. This undercuts the mood of the penultimate scene, when all the characters are moving away from Rumson Creek, never likely to meet again. Lo and behold, back they all come and mourn their old mate, and of course, since this is a Broadway musical, he speaks to them from heaven." The Times

Paint Your Wagon in London at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park previewed from 23 July 1996, opened on 26 July 1996 and closed on 2 September 1996